Racism is often a hot topic to debate. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome debates and intellectual discussions amongst peers because it often inspires a lot of learning and exchanges of anecdotal and experience-based evidence which you would not otherwise get. The problem is when you get stuck debating over what racism even is in the first place or the same basic details of how our (U.S.) society and government works; you can’t learn anything, and frankly, it’s just exhausting. So I’m going to lay down the top 10 ignorant remarks that I get on the daily, being the Samantha White character, usually, in my mostly non-Woke group of friends.
1. “That’s racist against white people!”
(Also known as reverse racism)
I hear this so often it hurts me. I’ve even heard that I’m sexist against men, which is equally as wrong for the same reason. I think Samantha White explains why best.
The bit before explains that black people, and people of color in general, can be prejudiced, but not racist. Prejudice is still awful, but let’s say that Mexicans and all non-black latinxs collectively got together too say that black people were the lazy ones and stealing our jobs and redirected a Donald Trump-esque speech onto us. Would the U.S. suddenly be more motivated to carry on immigration reform? Would latinxs start making more than us on average? No. If anything, Fox News would just have a field day talking about the in-fighting go on between us, but no change would occur. People of color don’t hold that kind of power in this society to oppress one another, nor white people for that matter, and the same goes for women and men. I’m still waiting for the day that white people stop being eligible for promotions and top positions like CEO’s and presidency because us people of color think all they’re good at is stealing ideas from everyone else and trying to pass it on as their own – aka Colombus-ing. However, the stereotypes and prejudices that white people have against people of color change all of our qualities of life and justify our dehumanization. For example: “Mexicans are lazy” — Latinxs/Hispanics make the least of everyone in this country, “Black people are thugs” — Black people have a record of the most recorded stop and frisks and the highest rate of reported murders in police custody, “Muslims are terrorists” – Muslims, Sikhs (because dumb-asses can’t tell the difference), Arabs, and South Asians have reported over 1,700 cases of discrimination and hate crimes since 9/11. But you know, I called the one Noah movie white–washed (I gave you 2 links there) and said my favorite fairy in the Tinker Bell movies is the black one so I guess that’s equally as bad, right?
2. “What if white people…”
No. Just stop. I already explained this. We live in a white supremacy, you have that power, I don’t. You can’t compare our actions on the same scale because our words/beliefs/actions don’t hold the same weight in society, only you can benefit from racism, not me, yadayadayada. Moving on.
3. “You make everything about race. Not everything is about race!”
First of all, I didn’t make everything about race. Guess who did? White people.
“When race emerged in human history, it formed a social structure (a racial social system) that awarded systemic privileges to Europeans („whites‟) over non-Europeans („non-whites‟). Racialized social systems , or white supremacy for short, became global and affected all societies where Europeans extended their reach. ..a society‟s racial structure is the totality of the social relations and practices that reinforce white privilege…the task is to uncover the particular social, economic, political, social control and ideological mechanisms for the reproduction of racial privilege in a society.” Bonilla-Silva 2006
Race is a social construct, but they created a system in which they benefit from being white and seen as human and people of color were seen as less than and like experimented on us and shit, like lab rats.
So, that being said, white people still benefit from the idea that there are certain hereditary qualities determined by race, breed, and ability that make some people more suitable for certain jobs and power than others – aka eugenics. I wonder who the master race is? And even if you’re not a full-blown eugenics major, the microagressions associated with the school of thought comfortably still exist in society and media. Long story short – people still develop preconceived notions about a person’s character based on their race.
I’m not saying that EVERYTHING is about race, and that was hyperbole on their part to begin with, but people often underestimate how often race is a factor in the events of everyday life, for people of color that is, because of the following statement:
4. “I don’t see color.”
Yes. You. Do. Yes. You. Do. We all see it, we just don’t all know how it affects us and affects the way we interact with people. Odds are, if you aren’t afraid to talk about race, you’re probably less racist/prejudiced than those who claim to not see race. Racism is not something that can only be manifested by verbal battery and use of racial slurs. Actually, many of the worst acts of racism are usually silent or passive-aggressive. Someone who feels comfortable acknowledging the racial diversity present in the room and speaking openly on racial issues amongst people of color or people of other races is probably more enlightened as to how to unlearn the microagressions of racism/prejudice that are passed down to us by the previous generation, society, and media. Those who don’t feel comfortable bringing up race amongst mixed company are probably, no, definitely more comfortable bringing it up when they’re only around other people like them, in which case, there is usually no one to check them or call them out for saying something offensive, which you may or may not have known was offensive beforehand.
You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, claim to not be racist/prejudiced unless you actively take steps to unlearn those things, whereas the opposite is more often than not, very passive and innate.
And lastly, lying and saying that you don’t see race or that race doesn’t affect how you treat people is not only ignorant but it’s also offensive. Saying that you don’t see race is saying that you treat people as if they’re exactly like you which implies that the only way people can get along is if we’re all the same. This is also known as colorblind racism. It’s also stupid just because, if you really treat everyone like they’re the same you’re probably ignoring many cultural differences and you probably overstep your boundaries a lot (i.e. If I say nigga, you (a non-black person) can’t say it right along with me. We’re not the same and the word is not yours to reclaim. Why? Because I’m black!)
So to answer number 3 more closely, a lot of things are about race because everyone sees it but not everyone takes steps to unlearn racism/prejudice so it affects the way a lot of people treat others, often in a negative way. Just because you don’t want to deal with that reality, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
5. “Not everyone is racist.”
True. People of color can’t be racist – See number 1. However, ALL —and I’m only going to say this once, so listen very closely, ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE RACIST. Yes, I said it. Nowadays, apologists and white feminists online don’t want to speak any truth that might make them lose followers but if I don’t tell you the truth, who will? All white people are racist, all people of color are prejudiced, all men are sexist, all straight people are homophobic, all cisgender people are transphobic, all able people are ableist, all people who are privileged in a certain aspect are unaware of how they are privileged and the way they abuse that privilege, and all marginalized groups are capable of internalized hatred and prejudice against themselves and others marginalized in the same way UNTIL they take active steps to unlearn those ideas that are currently society’s default.
I’ll give y’all a second to wipe up your privileged tears so that we can move on.
Not having the intention to be racist does not make you not racist.
Not having the intention to be racist does not make you not racist.
Not having the intention to be racist does not make you not racist.
Ignorance is not an excuse for racism, so if someone calls you out for being racist, don’t be so quick to say “I’m not racist!” because you’re most likely lying.
6. “I’m so sorry you thought I was being racist but—“
But nothing. If you are a white person, you do not get to define what racism is to people of color; you do not get to tell us what it’s like to be us. You have never experienced racism — no, shut up and read number 1 again — therefore you have no means by which to judge it. So if a person of color says something is racist – listen. Also, don’t proceed to say anything after the “I’m sorry”. Everyone knows that “I’m sorry but–” is not an apology and anything less than an apology is a way in which you’re using your privilege to continue to silence people of color, so at that point, don’t pretend to care about not being racist and don’t pretend to be an ally either.
7. “White people are oppressed too.”
Yes, there are several –ia’s and –ism’s that can marginalize white people in addition to people of color (homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, etc.); however; white people are not oppressed on the basis of race.
8. “Racism is in the past; we’re post-racial now.”
Ok. Anyone stupid enough to say this is not worth my time or energy. NEXT!
9. “Yeah, of course there’s racism, but things are never going to change. What’s the point in dwelling on it? It’s not like we can do anything about it.
In my eyes, this is a thousand times worse than number 8. It’s one thing to not want to make a change because you don’t think that there is anything that needs to be changed, which, coming from a position of privilege or a victim of internalized hatred, is almost understandable – almost, but to know that there is injustice in the world but trying to silence those around you who have taken to civil unrest because your internalized inferiority makes you think there’s nothing that can be done about it? That’s just evil.
Every time marginalized groups gather and create a movement to bring about change, change is accomplished. Every damn time. I.E. Civil rights movements, women’s rights movements, gay rights movements, etc. etc. etc.
I especially don’t understand Americans who think like this since this country is so young and yet so much change has been accomplished in such short periods of time. Black people have come a long way from being considered only 3/5 of a human being — not nearly far enough, but far.
The same person who says the ignorant phrase above, also says that people back then were different from people now because people now don’t care. Well first of all, you’re part of the problem, and second, look at the way society runs now. We no longer have to rely on biased government-endorsed news stations to report and spread news. We are the news. Information spreads so much faster now and we have the ability to access all the information we want to know at the touch of a button. Does everyone take advantage of that? No. But guess what? Social media and my friends (my woke friends) are largely what got me involved with social justice. Instead of polluting the air with your ignorant, inaccurate, defeatist nonsense, why not start a conversation with people you know. People can’t care about things they don’t know about and people can’t change things they don’t think they have the power to, but make no mistake, people can change things. We have, we are, and we will always continue to, despite people like that trying to convince us otherwise.
10. “Maybe if people stopped talking about race/racism so much it wouldn’t be that big of a problem! All you’re doing is dividing us.”
Racism is not an awkward situation that only gets more awkward if you talk about it. Race is not like a hashtag on twitter that barely anybody knows about or notices until people keep using it and it starts trending. Talking about racism is not like throwing garbage into a landfill where the more you talk about it, the bigger the pile gets and the worse the problem gets. Mentioning race is not like saying Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror three times and all of a sudden the haunting ghost figure appears; however, some people do get scared like it is.
Talking about racism is like walking in on your parents having sex. In the back of your mind you’ve always known that your parents had sex at least once (to make you), but you never really think about it because it makes you uncomfortable. But now, since you’ve walked in on them, it’s become more of a reality that you either have to deal with and come to terms with or remain uncomfortable for the rest of your life.
Those who acknowledge the existence of racism are not responsible for the persistence of racism.
We’re already divided. Racism already exists. Like I noted in the previous point, those who talked about race all the time and shouted about their struggles in the streets are the ones responsible for making a difference, not those who went on shucking and jiving and tap dancing for massa. Yeah, I went there, because this is something I mainly get from people of color. Learn your history and stop being dim. Pretending to be white is not going to give you white privilege so gtfo with your Rachel Dolezal ass.
And here’s a special 11th one because I love y’all so much.
11. “You don’t have to be so rude about it!”